on racism … part 1

Many in the Republican Party and some noteworthy Christian leaders have come together to call Judge Sotomayor a racist. This rhetoric compounds with other recent statements – support for torture, opposition to hate speech legislation (note: not opposition to hate speech, but to legislation restricting hate speech), ongoing denial of environmental crisis and climate change, and so on.
As Dave Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons made clear in their important book UnChristian, this kind of talk – and the viewpoints and theology from which it springs – have created an extremely negative stereotype of the Christian faith over recent decades, especially among young people – who are leaving the church in record numbers. You would think this information would have gotten out to many of these religious leaders – and that, if for no other reason than they don’t want to drive the young away from their religious communities, they would at least be more careful and sensitive. But no, they are continuing on the same course … adding more fuel to the stereotypical fire that Christians are judgmental, insensitive, reactive, more ideological than theological, and so on.
Yes, their rhetoric (which you can read about and find links to here) reflects badly on these Christians themselves. But sadly, it also reflects badly on the rest of us Christians and on the Christian faith in general. If the rest of us are silent, unless more of us speak up to distinguish our position from theirs, nobody can blame others for assuming our silence means tacit agreement.
That’s one reason why I continue to be outspoken about these matters. I take no pleasure in criticizing anyone, including my fellow Christians. But I must simply say that these voices don’t speak for me, nor do they speak for thousands of people I meet in my travels. Their words and attitudes grieve me and I would be ashamed of myself if I did not speak up and publicly and respectfully differ. I hope other will do the same. More to come on this later …